‘Unseasonable’ Weather, Climate Change and Forest Fires

What causes ‘unseasonable’ weather? According to this report in ‘the guardian’, unseasonably warm weather is an indication of climate change:

April 28, 2016, Australia – “Unseasonably warm weather a clear sign of climate change, say scientists.”

But what causes unseasonably cold weather – like this snow in the UK?

April 26, 2016, Britain – “Snow stops play at cricket matches in the south as Britain suffers unseasonable late April cold snap.” – The Telegraph –

‘The Telegraph’ did not attribute this colder weather to Climate Change (which generally means Global Warming and refers to warmth, droughts, fire, floods, melting, etc.) Instead, The Telegraph offered this tongue-in-cheek explanation:

Some (twitters) suggested the arctic conditions were a gift from the late popstar Prince, alluding to the lyrics of his song ‘Sometimes It Snows In April’.

Are you as tired of the term ‘Climate Change’ as I am? I blame the media for that. Weather (which is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere in a region and its short-term -minutes to weeks- variations) is being reported like it is our Climate. Climate is the statistical weather information that describes the variation of weather at a given place for a specified interval (usually 30 years or more.)

‘Climate change’, a concept that should have remained in the hands of scientists and been vigorously researched and debated, has moved out of the realm of research and into the political arena. The cheerleaders of alarm – the media – consistently argue that unseasonably warm weather is the harbinger of climate change.

If ‘Climate Change’ really was about science, then scientists would all be working together and learning from one another. There would be a wealth of research from a diverse number of individuals and groups who didn’t try to mold their results to fit a believer, skeptic or denier position. The ‘Good Guys’ would not be on the payroll of ‘Big Government’, while the ‘Bad Guys’ were funded by ‘Big Oil’. The public would not be bombarded with fear mongering weather stories masquerading as apocalyptic climate change.
– Margy –

Perhaps you’ve been following the story of the Fort McMurray Fire here in Alberta. Many journalists jumped on the Climate Change bandwagon, though a few paused to consider whether the timing was good. More than 80,000 people, many of them employed by the Oil Industry, have been evacuated and are temporarily homeless.

The rush to draw the connection between the Fort Mac fires and climate change could come across as blaming, Pike said, adding “I really personally question the timing and how best to have that conversation”.
– Cara Pike, climate communications expert with Climate Access, National Observer, May 12, 2016 –

Other reporters looked beyond the unseasonably warm, dry spring in Alberta to ask – what else is happening to Alberta’s forests?

I have been repeatedly asked: “what does it hurt to say that the fire was caused by climate change?”… As a pragmatist I recognize that we live in a world where our governments have finite budgets and need to allocate resources wisely; to do that they need good information. Bad information makes for bad decisions, and attributing the forest fire to climate change would mean advancing bad information over good.
– Blair King, HuffPost Alberta, May 10, 2016 –

Mr. King’s article points out that the larger concern in Alberta is that Wildfire suppression programs have been successful! Now we have large swaths of mature forests that present new problems:

Before major wildfire suppression programs, boreal forests historically burned on an average cycle ranging from 50 to 200 years as a result of lightning and human-caused wildfires. Wildfire suppression has significantly reduced the area burned in Alberta’s boreal forests. However, due to reduced wildfire activity, forests of Alberta are aging, which ultimately changes ecosystems and is beginning to increase the risk of large and potentially costly catastrophic wildfires.
– Flat Top Complex Wildfire Review Committee Report, May 2012 –

While it is important to recognize that Alberta’s climate may become warmer, the more critical issue is how Alberta will manage aging forests.

Canadian forest fire management agencies have, for several decades, been gradually moving away from their traditional fire exclusion policies that were based on the assumption that all fire is bad and that it was to be excluded from the forest at almost any cost – and towards the development and implementation of enlightened fire management policies. These call for achieving an appropriate balance between reducing the detrimental impact of fire on people, property and resources and letting fire play a more natural role when and where it is appropriate for it to do so.
– David Martell, professor in the Faculty of Forestry and Fire Management Systems Laboratory, UofT News, May 6, 2016 –

As wildfires increase in severity, Smokey the Bear’s legacy makes it harder for the public to get behind controlled burns. Maybe it’s time for Smokey to advocate the need for smart forest fires.

In the past 30 to 40 years, how has the climate changed where you live? Has it made your life better or worse?

23 thoughts on “‘Unseasonable’ Weather, Climate Change and Forest Fires

  1. I think climate has been changing for centuries but as the number of people occupying the planet has increased, the situation becomes worse.


    1. ‘Worse’ kind of depends where you are, doesn’t it? I live in a country (Canada) where a warmer climate will generally mean a longer growing season, fewer days where we have to heat our homes and milder winters with less snow… On the whole, there are probably more pluses than minuses, though it will vary from region to region and year to year.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t get me started, Marge, you know it isn’t pretty when I take on the devil incarnate, aka Al Gore.


    1. Yes, I know where you stand with Al Gore’s fundamental inability to forecast catastrophic global warming/ climate change disasters. His ice free Arctic Ocean predictions are just one example of how little he actually understands about Climate Change, and how much scientists still don’t understand about the topic.


      1. Yes. And didn’t the Nobel committee used to award the prizes based on the accuracy of scientific discoveries? When did they drop that requirement? And while we’re on the subject, if just being elected President is now a condition for a peace prize, shouldn’t the other 42 men who have served as President receive one too? Just askin’ …..


  3. Never trust the media to properly interpret and report scientific research. They want dramatic headlines, and they want them first. I don’t think climate change has anything to do with the Alberta fires, aside from it maybe being an especially dry year (and as you point out, that would be weather, not climate change).

    The US Forest Service recognized, finally, that where lives and property are not threatened, naturally occurring forest fires should be allowed to burn. It’s nature’s way of clearing out old dry trees and underbrush. In fact, some trees and shrubs rely on fire to release their seeds and to create the ash that enriches the soil.

    Emotionally, Colorado’s forest fires (and now Alberta’s) devastate me. I hate seeing forests I love being destroyed, knowing they will not fully recover in my lifetime. But intellectually I understand the need to let those fires burn whenever possible. And when necessary, to conduct controlled burns in areas otherwise ripe for dangerous conflagrations. It’s a hard truth.

    My heart goes out to all those in Alberta being affected by these terrible fires.


    1. Good points! We think of forest fire in terms of devastation, but a fire is also about renewal. With that perspective, fire prevention can focus on keeping forest communities safe, but selectively letting forests themselves burn.


  4. Like too many things, climate change has become so politicized that the whole idea of it has been reduced to gibberish.


    1. It has become very difficult to know what version of the ‘truth’ to believe. I’m really uncomfortable with how data is presented. Crunch it one way, and it supports the alarmists. Crunch it another way, and the skeptic perspective makes sense… Threaten to prosecute people because they don’t believe the government sanctioned position – that is just plain wrong.


  5. Great article. The wildfire is a terrible beast with a voracious appetite. I feel awful for the folks and wildlife suffering because of it. I hadn’t even thought of climate change as a part of the fiery fuel. I agree that controlled fires could help maintain a healthier balance in the environment and maybe prevent the severity when wildfires happen.


    1. Probably the most important lesson here is adaptation. Mankind’s control of nature isn’t always best in the long run. We can do better in the future if we look at how we can adapt to change.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Our ability to adapt and even thrive in a variety of environments is one of the hallmarks of mankind. We can live in the cold Arctic and the sweltering Sahara, the high Himalayas and the deep Amazon jungles. Our climate keeps changing, and will continue to do so. The challenge to mankind will be to find ways to adapt! Personally, I’m hoping my part of Canada has shorter winters! I could adapt to that!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m with you, Margie. We can adapt. We have to. But I’m not thrilled about it. I’m starting to sound like my granny did when she told stories like , “I remember the winter of 1910 and the snow was 6 feet deep.”

    I’m saying things like, “I remember when tornadoes only came in April.” or “It didn’t really hit 90 degrees until the end of May.” But now…..


    1. Perhaps some day I will be that Granny telling my grand kids about the winter of…. Here on the Canadian Prairies, cold, snow and ice went on for seven months from October 2012 to April 2013, inclusive – the longest and coldest period in 16 years. Our winter of 2013-2014 was the coldest in 18 years and the third coldest in 35 years. The five months between November and March inclusive were the coldest since the start of Canadian national record-keeping in 1948. Snowfall records were set too.

      In contrast, spring was early this year and we had summer type weather in late April. Now we are back to near normal, which means freezing temps most mornings. I wish my plants had listened to me a few weeks ago when I told them it was too early to poke their heads out of the ground!


  7. I agree it’s hard for us laypeople to decide. My worry is there isn’t enough accredited science being done that’s truly neutral and this is the responsibility of governments to ensure.


    1. Neutral and government – that doesn’t seem very likely in my part of the world! Our federal government says: “The scientific evidence is clear: climate change is one of the greatest threats of our time. From increased incidences of droughts, to coastal flooding…etc”. Droughts and coastal flooding don’t seem to be an issue yet, though. Everything hinges on how accurate the forecasting models are.


      1. In the absence of democratic controls everything is left to private science, which is naturally biased towards making a profit. Who does the other stuff?


        1. Here in Canada, we have programs in universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions that are funded by both government and industry. Is there a potential for bias? Probably!


          1. I worry that the only neutral research comes from public funding which is low when taxes are low. Perhaps I worry too much.


  8. I have to disagree with the prior commenter – government research is the opposite of neutral, at least in the US. The ruling party and/or pet theory has a built-in incentive to arrive at the “right” findings. We do have universities researching climate change, like Canada, so it would be hoped that there will someday be a meeting of the minds. I suspect that will not happen, though, when voices that dissent against the accepted stance are shouted down and ridiculed.

    What ever happened to reasoned debate?

    I agree with you on the controlled burns. We know intellectually that is nature’s way of renewing itself, but it’s tough to see.


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